Oyster complaints

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ChristopherJ

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I'm at my wits end with the Oyster card at the moment, twice in two days has it charged me for incomplete journeys and I have yet to receive any of the my money I am owed back.

I'll separate the incidents in to two easy to digest reports:

Incident 1
Thursday 08/03
Time: 22:00 hrs (off peak)
Planned journey: London Liverpool Street (National Rail) - Leyton Midland Road (London Overground)
Price: £3.10 single fare

I firstly intended to travel from Liverpool Street to Forest Gate with Greater Anglia, then walk the interchange to Wanstead Park to travel with London Overground to Leyton Midland Road. However, on this occasion Fenchurch Street station was closed and c2c was diverted in to Liverpool Street - so I decided to travel to Barking direct with c2c then travel with London Overground to avoid walking along the grim and dark high road at Forest Gate - much safer and a valid route either way.

I traveled on the 22:11 Liverpool Street - Barking service with c2c, upon arrival at Barking I intended to travel on the 22:47 Barking - Gospel Oak with London Overground but due to a points failure the guard informed the train that there may be a slight delay until departure, over 30 mins passes and the train is still at Barking at 23:15 and the guard announces the service is now canceled - so therefore I have no direct route to Leyton Midland Road. After speaking with the c2c staff at Barking I was informed I would be best to go back to Liverpool Street and try another route - so back in to London on c2c I go again. I returned to Liverpool Street and this time traveled on Greater Anglia to Walthamstow Central - arriving at 00:15 - almost 2 hours after tapping in so I expected to be charged a full fare but due to the time being passed midnight there was no ticket offices open and I had no option of getting a refund until the next day at the earliest. I finished my journey to Leyton Midland Road by taxi.

Two days later (Saturday 10/03). I have the first opportunity to speak about my full fare charge at Walthamstow Central (London Underground) and to arrange a refund but only to be told it's impossible to do over the counter because the journey was made two days ago. I explained that this was my first opportunity to sort the refund because I arrived at gone midnight and the ticket offices were shut. I'm told to go and explain the situation to TfL by telephone of which I did - I explained the aforementioned incident to a lady at the Oyster team on the phone and she said the refund would be added to my Oyster the next time I tap the London Underground barriers at Walthamstow Central, okay, fine. Not...


Incident 2
Saturday 10/03
Time: 20:00 hrs
Planned journeys (both off peak):
- Walthamstow Central (London Underground) - Stratford (London Underground)
- Stratford (London Underground) - Walthamstow Central (London Underground)
Price: £1.40 each way.

After tapping in at Walthamstow Central (London Underground), I notice my credit has remained the same and the refund promised over the phone has not been added. I traveled on the Victoria Line to Tottenham Hale, then interchanged to Greater Anglia to Stratford.

Upon arrival at Tottenham Hale, I tap out at the London Underground barriers and several seconds laer tap back in at National Rail validator so that my interchange between LU-Greater Anglia would be combined in to one fare, 20 mins later I arrive at Stratford and tap out and am charged £1.40 correctly. I go in to Westfield shopping centre for 25mins to pick up a gift and immediately return to Stratford station and tap back in but am confronted with two problems of which are (1 I missed a direct service to Tottenham Hale and the next isn't for an hour and 2) the London Overground is suspended because of long term power supply problems since 12:00 midday so I can't travel via Highbury & Islington and the Victoria Line. So to the only alternative route to return to Walthamstow Central is to go in via Liverpool Street and Zone 1. I travel on Greater Anglia from Stratford - Liverpool Street and the barriers are open so I don't tap out because I would be charged a zone 1 fare - I just walked out the Great Eastern barriers and back in to the West Anglia barriers then traveled on the Stansted Express to Tottenham Hale so I would correctly be charged for my alternative route. When I go to tap out at Tottenham Hale (National Rail validator) I get an error 36 on my Oyster card and the journey history shows that I have in fact traveled from Walthamstow Central - Uncompleted but I know why - because I only exited the system for 25 mins at Stratford the system has thought it was an interchange and combined my outward (successful) journey with my return journey and charged me the cash fare and taken all of my credit. I now cannot get through Tottenham Hale (London Underground) barriers because I have only 0.60p credit but luckily I explained the situation to the very nice LU barrier staff whom opened the barriers and phoned through to Walthamstow Central to allow me to travel and exit. Kudos to the LU barrier lady at Tottenham Hale.

Now I'm going to copy this in to an e-mail to the TfL oyster team in hope to to get this all rectified - given that I did for the first incident and never received my refund I'm not confident that I will.

I have traveled on railway systems all across Europe using smart cards and none compare to the sheer complexity and complication to the Oyster card in London. Ironically there was a report having a bash at Oyster in the Evening Standard a few days ago - I think I might have to add my two penny.

There is a place reserved in the lower regions of hell for whoever designed the Oyster card.
 
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RJ

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There is a place reserved in the lower regions of hell for whoever designed the Oyster card.
The techincians work incredibly hard to program the cards in such a way to minimise inconvenience for the greater majority of people. I've been there with the dodgy OSIs causing major headaches but instead of being aggrieved, I've come to appreciate how the system works.

When I worked in a ticket office, I had the ability to resolve and void prepay transactions from any time within the preceding eight weeks so I'm not convinced it's impossible, but there you go.
 

causton

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I spent an hour or so with a SWT gateline assistant in London this evening, and the amount of Oyster issues is terrible. Not saying it's not the fault of the users, but the amount of maximum fare deductions, people not touching in/out properly, never mind the fact the barriers had very flaky Oyster readers and didn't work about 1/5 of the time!

The problem lies in the fact that at NR stations, the staff have no idea what's happening on the card. If the TVMs had a journey history function, or the TOC staff had Oyster readers for gateline staff (like the RPIs have to check the journey) - or something to resolve problems instead of shrugging your shoulders and saying 'go to a tube station/phone/email TfL)...
 

DJ737

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G'day

I don't understand why you went by tube/ train from Walthamstow Central to Stratford.

Would not a route 69, 97 or 257 bus been quicker and cheaper?

Also for your first problem, Liverpool St. - Stratford then bus to Leyton Midland Road would have been the most obvious route.

Cheers
DJ737
Melbourne, Australia
 

Urban Gateline

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I spent an hour or so with a SWT gateline assistant in London this evening, and the amount of Oyster issues is terrible. Not saying it's not the fault of the users, but the amount of maximum fare deductions, people not touching in/out properly, never mind the fact the barriers had very flaky Oyster readers and didn't work about 1/5 of the time!

The problem lies in the fact that at NR stations, the staff have no idea what's happening on the card. If the TVMs had a journey history function, or the TOC staff had Oyster readers for gateline staff (like the RPIs have to check the journey) - or something to resolve problems instead of shrugging your shoulders and saying 'go to a tube station/phone/email TfL)...
I couldn't agree more with all that you've said! ;)

It is frustrating as barrier staff for a TOC, to not be able to help and advise on Oyster issues all the time. We aren't provided with Handy 440's (Handheld Oyster Reader), although I normally borrow one from the ticket office when that's open, so I've learnt how to check and advise on Oyster history.

The biggest farce has to be that refunds can't be done at most NR stations within the Oyster zones, as Causton said above, we are constantly having to refer passengers to a LUL ticket office or the Oyster Helpline as SWT ticket offices are unable to deal with Oyster (excluding Richmond and Wimbledon) This is frustrating and I can understand that passengers feel like they're being shrugged off.

The only relevant comment to the OP's post I can make is that I can't understand why the OP didn't touch out when going through Z1 as that may have caused an incomplete journey charge or is technically avoiding the correct fare!

Also, during disruption, Oyster is a pain, as people end up touching in and out more than they would normally, going on longer routes causing their journey to time out, or going through a zone they wouldn't normally have to travel through. All of these cause overcharges and angry passengers having a go at staff who can't do anything about it!
 

island

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Stratford is an Oyster disaster.

To the OP, i'd discourage emailing. You should pick up the phone because that at least makes it likely your issue will be resolved there and then. Emails can be ignored or lost and if you go outside the 8-week limit from your journey they won't be able to refund you.
 

Nym

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Back up this use the phone thing, having been to TfL's call centre, the staff are all rather good and professional from what I can tell, and the caller ques where very short when I was there.
 

swt_passenger

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Stratford is an Oyster disaster.
It definitely keeps getting discussed in a number of forums/newsgroups.

I've had an exit and re-entry at Stratford about 20 mins later combined, and that would have been about three or four years ago.

A number of people have suggested exit and re-entry must always start a new journey, but if so Stratford must be an exception...
 

yorkie

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MikeWh

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I'll go into more detail in a while, but the first point to note is that your first refund was never going to work the same day. Helpdesk generated refunds are transmitted to the station overnight and can be picked up from the following day for 8 days. That should have been explained by the operator as they set it up. If you go back from today and either enter or exit at Walthamstow Central then your refund will be added back to the card.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Yes I know that, but leaving the station through the main gateline and going shopping for 20 mins and then re-entering should never cause a continuation exit (as I understand them).
No it shouldn't. I tried this sort of thing a couple of weeks ago trying to replicate the case of the poster in the thread linked to above by Yorkie. Unfortunately I managed to get both an out and 1-2 minutes later an in at the main gateline. Further, my card was actually read by an RPI on the DLR back to Canning Town and it was fine. This is different to the experience of the OP of the other thread so I am confused. I have raised a FOI request to TfL about this and some other same station OSI behaviour at other places. I'm still waiting for a response although the 4 weeks isn't quite up yet.
 

Brucey

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No it shouldn't. I tried this sort of thing a couple of weeks ago trying to replicate the case of the poster in the thread linked to above by Yorkie. Unfortunately I managed to get both an out and 1-2 minutes later an in at the main gateline. Further, my card was actually read by an RPI on the DLR back to Canning Town and it was fine. This is different to the experience of the OP of the other thread so I am confused. I have raised a FOI request to TfL about this and some other same station OSI behaviour at other places. I'm still waiting for a response although the 4 weeks isn't quite up yet.
As a matter of interest, I also tried to replicate the situation again at Stratford this week. I did exactly as previously (albeit with a different start station). I "exited" on a DLR platform validator three times, like last time. I then exited through the gateline, topped up my Oyster card and entered again. I was given an Entry on the screen (unlike last time where it appeared as Exit), however the system still joined them up as a single journey.

Furthermore, I was given a "same station OSI" at Paddington when I touched out then back into the same gateline. I arrived on the H&C line and exited. Realised my train was departing from an island behind the same gateline, so entered again about 4 minutes later. Whole journey was joined together as in the screenshot attached.

The whole "same station OSI" is a major problem, as people are exceeding their maximum journey time. Perhaps the system could be improved to calculate (on exit) whether two separate journeys would not cause a maximum fare to be applied, then charge appropriately?
 

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island

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The whole "same station OSI" is a major problem, as people are exceeding their maximum journey time. Perhaps the system could be improved to calculate (on exit) whether two separate journeys would not cause a maximum fare to be applied, then charge appropriately?
I agree, but apparently that would mean having to hold the Oyster card on the pad for upwards of two seconds while the system decided whether it was going to let you through.
 

MikeWh

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If xplo42 returns to this thread I would be interested to see the timing details for the second journey. In particular, did it take more than 100 minutes to get from Stratford to Walthamstow Central. It may have relevance to the description of the issue which is one that I am keen to get TfL to explain further.

In other news, brad465 had a similar problem today after a quick touch out and in at Blackfriars NR. Fortunately the SE staff at London Bridge were not inclined to persue the rejected card with a child and told him he just needed to top up again. He then went to the LU station and tried to get the unfinished journey resolved. Unfortunately they didn't quite get it right so he did have to add another 70p. With me as his Dad we will get that back, and I now have a real example to use to force an explanation out of TfL.
 

ChristopherJ

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I don't understand why you went by tube/ train from Walthamstow Central to Stratford.

Would not a route 69, 97 or 257 bus been quicker and cheaper?
A few reasons.

1) the sheer amount of road works between Walthamstow and Stratford at present, it has sometimes taken over an hour to travel between the two points. The bus routes are bad enough during the day because of the traffic congestion at the Lea Bridge Road junction. I couldn't take the risk at being stuck in a traffic jam at that time of night because Westfield shopping centre begins to close between 9-10pm.

2) the price differential between a single bus and a rail journey on Oyster is only 5p (£1.35 by bus and £1.40 by rail). I'm getting my monies worth! :lol:

3) most importantly - I'm a railway enthusiast, so the train gets priority over the bus, any day. ;)

If xplo42 returns to this thread I would be interested to see the timing details for the second journey. In particular, did it take more than 100 minutes to get from Stratford to Walthamstow Central. It may have relevance to the description of the issue which is one that I am keen to get TfL to explain further.
I validated my Oyster card at Stratford (Westfield) gateline between 21:45-21:50 IIRC.

I then traveled on the following Greater Anglia / Stansted Express services:

22:01 Stratford - London Liverpool Street (22:08)
22:25 London Liverpool Street - Tottenham Hale (22:37)

After the gate line staff at Tottenham Hale (London Underground) organized me to travel to Walthamstow Central, I immediately traveled on a Victoria Line service and arrived at Walthamstow Central at approximately 22:50.

Thanks for your help. :)
 
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